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Taking the Giant Leap

April 26, 2010

Kyle Ruffin

LIES™ keep us trapped in situations that on the surface seem right and safe.  The truth is that we’re taking a huge risk staying in a place that looks right, but is taking a toll on us emotionally and psychologically.  My dear friend and colleague Kyle Ruffin (pictured) tells a story that is all too familiar to many searching for the courage to strike out on their own.

In spite of the economy, I decided to leave a stable job that I was doing well, but that I didn’t enjoy.  My body was reacting to the stress of being in an environment that wasn’t right for me.  Even though I liked and respected my boss and co-workers, was receiving constant praise, and meeting my goals, I was filled with anxiety and dreaded going to bed at night knowing that I had to wake up and spend the next 10 or more hours in a place that made my heart and my stomach ache.

I tried desperately to find mantra and coping mechanisms that would turn my situation around.  Even dear friends with whom I confided told me to stick it out because many people we knew personally were only moderately successful at their jobs.  I vowed day after day to go to work with a smile and get happy about the daily tasks that made up my day.  That was a lie I couldn’t sustain for more than a few hours.  As soon as a crisis arose – which they did more and more frequently as the economy got worse – I immediately sunk back into a state of depression and angst.  Enjoyment from my successes didn’t last long enough to carry me through to the next one.

Nothing worked – until I had a teary-eyed conversation with my husband who told me that he wanted me to be happy.  In spite of incredible fear that he would think less of me if I walked away from a good-paying job (another lie I was living), he was surprisingly supportive and encouraging once I came clean about how I felt.  He asked that all-important question, “What are you going to do about it.”

The big emotional turnaround came when I decided to spend my commuting time reaching out to colleagues to ask them if they’d hire me if I was to strike out on my own.   I received a hero’s response from people I’d worked with who – as it turned out – had a lot a respect for me and the kind of work they’d done with me.   The ego boost was incredible and I began to feel the cloud lift.

Another act that made me feel better was when I put into writing the kinds of benefits I could offer clients based on real experience I gained in my 25-year career.  I eventually turned that into the copy for my website.  I designed a logo that incorporated my absolute love for Science Fiction.  I set up my blog and began learning about new technology and services that I could put to use in my new business.  Before I knew it, during the hours I wasn’t at work, I was no longer dwelling on what I hated about my existing  job, I was swimming in details of how I’d build a business that incorporated the things I did well and enjoyed.

I developed a plan, a timeline, goals and began letting people know I was available.  Even though none of the original people I reached out to have turned into actual clients yet, others who I interacted with during my long career did.  Before I knew it, friends and colleagues were recommending me to people they knew needed the kind of services I offered.  I had several paying client within three months of leaving my old job.

It’s been far from an overnight success, but I’m much happier and I’m working on my own terms, using the talents I was born with and love.  It has meant cutting back on some of the extravagances that my husband and I had come to enjoy, but I also gave up the pit in my stomach every Sunday night.

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